Haiti: One Year Later

WASHINGTON - A year after Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, Handicap International reviews its response to the crisis in Haiti, where we continue to provide support to the country's most vulnerable people.

Our activities in Haiti are being implemented by a team of 540 people, including 60 expatriate staff – the largest deployment in Handicap International's history. In addition to the earthquake, Haiti has suffered an extended series of emergencies this year, including harsh weather, a cholera outbreak and electoral violence. The association will continue its efforts in Haiti over the next three to five years to help ensure the country's recovery.

Handicap International helped to case-manage the injured in some 20 hospitals between January and July 2010 before these activities were transferred to neighborhood focal points. More than 82,000 physical rehabilitation and basic care sessions were provided; 10,000 injured people benefited from functional rehabilitation care and 25,000 people attended psychosocial support sessions. Handicap International estimates 2,000 to 4,000 people were amputated after the earthquake, with at least 1,000 people requiring a lower-limb prosthesis. To date, the association has fitted more than 900 people with prostheses and orthoses. Since November 2010, the association has organized a special cholera prevention campaign to overcome the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable sections of the population in accessing aid and information.

Using a fleet of 70 trucks, Handicap International has transported 20,000 tons of humanitarian aid since January 14, 2010 for some 100 organizations, as part of its efforts to coordinate action between aid operators. Since October 22, more than 400 tons of aid to fight the cholera epidemic have also been transported. The association has also taken part in distributions. It has supplied more than 5,000 tents to more than 26,000 beneficiaries, distributed more than 30,000 items of equipment to cover the needs of more than 43,000 people, and distributed more than 36 tons of food. More than 4,000 people have taken part in “cash for work” projects organized by Handicap International. To aid the most vulnerable among the population, Handicap International has also begun building 1,000 transitional, hurricane-resistant and earthquake-resistant homes accessible to people with reduced mobility.

“The people of Haiti have shown astounding resilience in the face of unimaginable disaster,” said Wendy Batson, executive director of Handicap International's U.S. office. “Handicap International staff are honored to be able to continue to work with the survivors of the earthquake, who have endured so much tragedy in 2010, in the years to come.” The association will gradually shift its focus to more long-term activities, such as providing livable temporary accommodation for isolated and vulnerable victims of the earthquake. The association will continue to support and rehabilitate the injured with increased attention on the most serious cases and on the long-term needs of all people with disabilities. In early 2011, the association will begin to offer diploma-based training for Haitian rehabilitation and orthopedic-fitting staff to build the capacity of Haitian professionals and to transfer the management of these projects to them over the long-term.

In 2010, the Handicap International Federation raised more than $21 million in response to the earthquake in Haiti. Ongoing actions in Haiti include provision of health care and rehabilitation, aid and support for people with disabilities and the most vulnerable members of the population, rehabilitation and construction, and management and distribution of humanitarian aid.